Archive for September 22nd, 2011
On September 20th, 2011, the FHL Foundation held its annual meeting for the 2011–2012 fiscal year (which ends July 31st of each year). After careful deliberation and consideration, the board and staff decided to de-emphasize its focus on Bowlbian attachment theory as a theory of social change. The reasons for this decision are complex and multifaceted. However, here are the main issue areas discussed:
- Multidisciplinary science and scientific investigation is declining. Bowlbian attachment theory is multidisciplinary in nature and encourages multidisciplinary scientific investigation and practice.
- A focus on naturalistic systems theory is declining while a focus on mechanistic (e.g., cybernetic) systems theory is gaining. Cybernetic systems can be seen reflected in such cultural phenomena as iTunes, Netflix, Google, Amazon, frequent flyer cards, Facebook, smartphones, etc.
- The phenomenon of attachment continues to be framed by a multitude of different frames—psychoanalytic, postmodern, reductionistic, New Age, Buddhist meditation, conservative religion, neurobiology, etc.—many of which conflict with one another. With the attachment field crowded by so many frames, it is extremely difficult to promote a true Bowlbian frame. With so much attachment frame “noise” it is very difficult to get across a true Bowlbian “signal.”
- Further, the frames that Bowlby primarily used—ethology, naturalistic systems theory, and cognitive maps or models—are rarely, if ever, used today to frame attachment.
- Deep relationships of all kinds—with attachment figures, with nature, with authors, with community, with career, with country, and with church—are on the decline. These patterns have been widely discussed in such books as Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone, Mary Eberstadt’s Home-alone America, Richard Florida’s Rise of the Creative Class, Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods, Jeremy Rifkin’s End of Work, Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows, and Jim Wallis’ Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It. As Bowlby used to say, “Attachment (e.g., deep relating) is with us from cradle to grave.” The continuum of deep relating seems to be breaking down.
- Increasingly adults are treating children as if they were “small adults.” This phenomenon goes by such names as “parentification,” “adultification,” and “role-reversal.” Bowlby railed against the phenomenon of treating children as if they were small adults. This phenomenon is described and discussed in detail in Kay Hymowitz’s book Ready or Not.
In the remainder of this post I’d like to briefly expand on each of the above issue areas (pulling from both board meeting discussions and my own research), and then end with a look at where all of this may lead the Foundation.